UFF News & Views April 2017



February 2017 UFF Senate Meeting | “Members Only” Is Not Just A Jacket | UFF- FAMU Chapter of Graduate Assistants United

UF-GAU Fighting for Fair Healthcare Plan | UFF-UCF Continues Activity with Affiliates and Partners | 

UFF-UCF at the NEA National Higher Ed Conference | Palm Beach State College Chapter – Negotiations and Membership

UFF-FSU Fighting at the Capitol 



 

Editor’s Note:

 

Jennifer Proffitt (FSU) and John Wesley White (UNF) received the 2017 NEA Excellence in the Academy’s Democracy in Higher Education Prize for their article in the Winter 2017 article in Thought & Action titled, “Preventing Violence or Promulgating Fear? ALEC, the NRA, and Guns on Campus.” The article can be found here: http://www.nea.org/home/70161.htm

John Wesley White accepts the Democracy in Higher Education Prize at the March 2017 NEA Higher Education Conference in Dallas.

 


 

February 2017 UFF Senate Meeting

By Jennifer Proffitt, UFF President

Each spring, the many chapters of the UFF elect members to serve as senators. Every February and September, these leaders attend a statewide UFF meeting to determine the direction of our union and its finances as well as meet together in bargaining councils—university, college, graduate assistants and independent colleges—to discuss bargaining and other issues our constituencies face.

This year, we had three very special guest speakers in February—State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, FEA Vice President Fedrick Ingram and Dr. Ibram Kendi, UFF-UF member and winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction for his book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Other actions of the Senate include:

  • A resolution opposing guns on campus.
  • A resolution opposing the restructuring of the Florida College System and performance funding metrics (as proposed in Senate Bills 002 & 374).
  • A statement in support of immigration and diversity in light of the recent executive order on immigration and travel restrictions.
  • A report from the Adjunct Task Force that included a resolution supporting SEIU’s efforts to organize adjuncts.
  • A report from the ad-hoc Incarceration Task Force that included a resolution that encourages UFF members to raise public awareness about the damaging effects of the prison industrial complex and encourages members to take action.

I would like to thank all of the members of the standing committees (Membership, Contract and Enforcement, Government Relations, and Diversity and Leadership) and the Adjunct Task Force, the Incarceration Task Force, and the subcommittee that is reviewing the UFF constitution and bylaws for their hard work and dedication to our union and the issues that affect all of us. I would also like to thank all of the senators who attended the meeting and took their role as representatives of their chapters very seriously by carefully considering the issues before them.


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“Members Only” Is Not Just A Jacket

By Harvey Slentz, FSCJ President

To provide value to our paying members, and as a membership growth strategy, the Florida State College at Jacksonville Chapter of UFF presented a two-hour seminar open to our UFF MEMBERS ONLY on Friday, February 24. 

The seminar subject was how faculty could best utilize the provision in our Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows faculty to earn a 1 percent permanent raise by attending professional development classes that are approved by the college. The 1 percent raise can be earned by successfully completing 8 semester hours of coursework at the college, or 120-clock hours of approved non-credit professional development training offered at the college. They can also achieve the requirement with a combination of credit and non-credit, with 15 non-credit clock hours equivalent to one semester hour. The presentation emphasized the practical aspects of how to schedule the courses, and what courses would be most useful, depending on where faculty were in their career cycle. The presentation also identified the financial value of getting that 1 percent raise, factored over the remaining time the faculty member would be working, and in retirement. The value of just 1 percent raise is amazing! 

We were very firm that ONLY UFF members would be permitted to attend, but faculty who are not members could join UFF even as late as doing it at the door just before the beginning of the event.  We did have some join at that time! 

The seminar was led by Dr. Maureen McCormick, our local union membership officer.  The event also featured lunch and refreshments that were organized by our Chapter's secretary, Rachelle Wadsworth. 

With a full-time faculty of about 400, we were surprised when more than 100 registered to attend the seminar on a Friday afternoon!  Based on that level of interest, we have another seminar planned for Friday, April 7, with the title "Know your Rights - Know your Contract".  This will be led by Dr. Maria Colavito and Dr. Lourdes Norman-McKay, who have both served as deans at FSCJ. They will lead the attendees in role-playing exercises addressing the most common situations that can cause problems for our professors!

But... Members Only...and membership IS growing.

 

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UFF- FAMU Chapter of Graduate Assistants United

By Andrea Jenkins, GAU Secretary

The graduate students have been bargaining over an entire year with the university for a $250 stipend increase, however, the students have been denied the raise. The justification was that the university is paying for health insurance, yet all other faculty and staff received a 2 percent raise.  E-board is currently drafting an impasse letter to a federal mediator and students are preparing to reach out to the media. We are making strides with new recruitment and have been successful in gaining new membership. For the remainder of the spring semester, our members are excited to participate in community service activities, the legislative session and bring awareness to the importance of having a campus union. 

FAMU-GAU Leaders and Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson

FSU-GAU Leaders in Support of FAMU-GAU Negotiations

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UF-GAU Fighting for Fair Healthcare Plan

By Alec Dinnen, UF-GAU Co-President

This semester, UF-GAU is renegotiating our collective bargaining agreement with the UF administration. Priorities include 1) preserving GatorGradCare (the graduate assistant healthcare plan) and fighting back against the administration's attempt to drastically increase out-of-pocket costs; 2) addressing the issue of graduate assistant fees; 3) achieving an across-the-board flat raise for all graduate assistants; and 4) putting in place a serious plan to address the availability of affordable childcare for graduate assistants. The recent Early Learning Coalition decision to stop counting graduate assistant credit hours as working hours has made childcare unaffordable for many UF graduate assistants. This is a statewide problem and UF-GAU is working toward solving it.

In line with our effort to preserve GatorGradCare, UF-GAU is also gearing up for the GAUCares Field Hospital Rally, which will take place outside Tigert Hall on Friday, April 7, noon to 1 p.m. This is an opportunity for UF graduate assistants to show that they care about their health insurance and that they oppose the administration's attempts to weaken it. We welcome anyone and everyone who would like to rally with us -- we promise that there will be no shortage of entertainment!

UF GAU Leaders After Negotiations Session

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UFF-UCF Continues Activity with Affiliates and Partners
By Scott Launier, UFF-UCF President


 UFF-UCF:  Co-founders of the TRUST Orlando Coalition

On Friday, March 17, State Sen. Victor M. Torres, Jr. and Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith gave a news conference in front of Orlando City Hall to announce “legislation designed to protect the safety and constitutional rights of Florida’s immigrant communities” (floridapolitics.com).  The TRUST Orlando Coalition began in November between UFF-UCF, SLAP at UCF, Hope Community Center and Mi Familia Vota.  This coalition grew to nearly 30 organizations leading to this support from our legislators.  Our Diversity Committee chair, Stephanie Wheeler, has played a pivotal role in this effort and helped to co-author the proposed legislation.  Thank you, Stephanie!

 

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UFF-UCF at the NEA National Higher Ed Conference

UFF-UCF had great representation in Dallas!

  • Monique Levermore (Psychology) presented “Facilitating Diversity of Perspective, Critical Thinking and Leadership Skills in an Online Undergraduate Psychology of Diversity Course”
  • Rohan Jowallah (CDL) presented “Let’s Talk: A Critical Analysis of the Continuous Reproduction of Racism within Contemporary American Society”
  • Scott Launier presented “Building Relationships, Building Power:  Will Our Union Survive without Community Allies?”
  • The NEA interviewed Yovanna Pineda (History) and shot video footage to be used in national promotion packages on the importance of the union in Higher Ed!

Scott Launier presenting at the NEA Higher Ed Conference in Dallas.

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Palm Beach State College Chapter – Negotiations and Membership

By Nick Larocca, UFF-PBSC President

UF-PBSC is currently engaged in full book negotiations.  A variety of issues have been advanced by the college, including MOPS, non-compete and overload caps.  The union has proposed a 19.7 percent pay raise across the board.  Regarding continuing contract, the union was disheartened that so few faculty received continuing contracts this year, but we live to fight another day on that front.  Three extraordinary faculty received CC.  However, many others who deserved CC did not get it, and we are committed to a more transparent, sturdy, robust CC process faculty and administration can get behind.  Thus far, the union has not put CC on the bargaining table.  On membership, we continue to hover in the 67 percent range, though we have at times broken through our goal of 70 percent membership; we have been successful at recruiting more than 90 percent of new faculty each of the last two years.  We have filed and won relief on three grievances in the last two years, including paid personal time issues and issues related to ADA discrimination and faculty treatment by students.

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UFF-FSU Fighting at the Capitol

By Matthew Lata, UFF-FSU President

Most of our efforts this month have been focused on legislative issues.  Given that we are minutes from the Capitol, we do everything we can to advocate for issues affecting faculty.   Some issues, like guns on campus and possibly reductions in GA fees may be moving our way.  Others, like secret searches for administrators, may not be.   In the House, the assault on higher education continues, with threatened budget cuts and HB11, which threatens to decertify unions that do not reach 50 percent membership, will likely pass in the House this week.  This is unashamed union busting.  The bill has yet to be placed on the agendas of the relevant Senate committees, but there are weeks to go in the session and anything can happen.  

Given this threat, we are intensifying our recruiting efforts, including personal visits, emails and direct mailings to potential members.   We’re trying to make membership fun as well as productive, with events like our annual tailgate/FSU baseball game this week.

Bargaining opens this week.   We’ll be focusing on salaries, including continuing market equity adjustments for both Regular and Specialized (non-tenured), working conditions and other areas.

We’re hoping for an efficient and non-contentious process.


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